The NHL’s second season is upon us and fans of every playoff bound team have visions of watching thier team hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup over thier heads. While we all can’t be champions for the 07/08 season, all it takes is a mere 16 wins and all eligible teams are capable of doing just that; according to the experts that is.
Right now there are thousands of playoff poolies looking for the edge in thier leagues and they are combing the experts predictions for some missed tidbit of information that will lead to a victory and the all important bragging rights. The problem is that the same experts that picked Montreal to finish 14th in the Eastern Conference and well out of the playoffs, are still the same ones giving the advice and opinions without hesitation or apologies.
As opposed to taking the home teams side in all that matters, we here at HabsWorld take pride in our annual predictions, and as a result, put forth the effort and thought required to be as accurate as possible. Ok, so we don’t exactly spend weeks crunching numbers, but we do have a better record then the “experts”.
This season HabsWorld has put together three writers to make the predictions for this playoff
season so let’s get to it.
1. Montreal Canadiens vs. 8. Boston
Jonathan Rebelo – MTL in 5
Norman Szcyrek -MTL in 6
Matt Godbout – MTL in 5
Concensus Pick: MTL in 5
Szcyrek – [MTL in 6]: A time honoured playoff classic, for Habs fans of course, is a
playoff series against the Boston Bruins. With a playoff series’ record of 23 wins against 7 losses, it
seems that the hockey gods have smiled upon Montreal in the past. Both sides have significant
players injured [Saku Koivu, Marc Savard] or nearly back from injuries [Mike Komisarek, Patrice
Bergeron]. However, Boston is not a team to be taken lightly. Despite losing their top forward
[Bergeon] & top goalie [Manny Fernandez] for most of the season, and their top forward [Savard] for
the last 7 games of the season, the Bruins have been underdogs this season. Most hockey pundits
dismissed both team’s chances of making it to the postseason. Head coach Claude Julien has truly
gotten the most out of his players. The same could be said for head coach Guy Carbonneau, who has
also taken a team that missed last season’s playoffs, and solidified them into the league’s highest
scoring offence, with solid contributions on both defence and in goal. The youth of this team has
certainly helped redirect the present and future of this club, along with key veterans such as Alexei
Kovalev, Saku Koivu, and Roman Hamrlik. Montreal had a 8-0 dominance over Boston in the regular
season. Many say the post-season is a 2nd season, but not everything from the regular season can
be thrown away. The Bruins have a mental block they’ll need to overcome, in order to compete with
the Habs. Boston will prove to be a tough opponent, but in the end Montreal’s special teams and
offence will lead to a 4-2 series win over the Bruins..
Rebelo – [MTL in 5]: There is no reason the Canadiens should lose this series. They
have dominated the Bruins for a year and a half. The Canadiens forwards are just too fast for the
Bruins to handle, if Montreal continues with what they have done almost all season the Bruins will be
forced to either sit back and watch the Habs buzz around them or take non stop penalty’s. The
goaltending battle will be interesting as neither Thomas or Price have played an NHL playoff game.
Price should expect his crease to be very busy as the Bruins will surely crash the net.
Godbout – [MTL in 5]: Let’s look at the contributing factors. Montreal has the best
PP unit, Boston is 28th on PK. Montreal is the highest scoring team in the league, Boston’s best
scorers are injured or just coming back and aren’t in game shape. Montreal has impressive team
speed, The Bruins have……Chara?… I don’t know, I ran out of things to say about them. The only
question mark about the Habs is in goal and having a rookie # 1 without playoff experience. Then
again Tim Thomas has been around for quite a while and he doesn’t have any experience either. The
bottom line is that this will be a hard fought series, but it will be like pulling off a band-aid for the
Bruins; quick….. but still painful and ugly.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 7. Ottawa
Jonathan Rebelo – Pitts in 7
Norman Szcyrek -Pitts in 5
Matt Godbout – Pitts in 6
Concensus Pick: Pitts in 6
Szcyrek – [PITTS in 5]: Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa. The expectations are for Pittsburgh to
seek some revenge on Ottawa, for being bounced from last season’s playoffs. The series should end
up that way, especially with key Senators such as forwards Mike Fisher & captain Daniel Alfredsson
injured with an unknown timetable for their returns. Goaltending has been inconsistent for Ottawa,
who have had some serious controversy from Ray Emery, to cause the #1 role fall to Martin Gerber .
Pittsburgh has also been stroked with the same inconsistency brush, as Ty Conklin & Marc-Andre
Fleury have both suffered from cold streaks, and triumphed with hot streaks too. Look for Ottawa to
show good team spirit, and play the Penguins very tough, but Pittsburgh will prevail with a 4-1 series
3. Washington Capitals vs. 6. Philadelphia
Jonathan Rebelo – PHI in 6
Norman Szcyrek -WASH in 4
Matt Godbout – PHI in 5
Concensus Pick: PHI in 6
Szcyrek – [WASH in 4]: Washington vs. Philadelphia. The NHL’s Cinderella team this
season has to be the Capitals. On Thanksgiving Day, the team was in dead last in the league with a
6-14-1 record. After firing head coach Glen Hanlon and replacing him with long-time minor league
coach Bruce Boudreau, the team still struggled for a while, languishing in last place as of December 30.
Then, a resurection began, with the team overcoming their own deficit to not only make it to the
playoffs, but bounce the Carolina Hurricanes out of the division lead & playoffs on the last game of
their season. Alex Ovechkin truly is the team’s MVP, leading the league in goals & points. His
teammates provided yeoman efforts, including defenceman Mike Green who lead the league in goals
scored among defencemen, and rookie forward Nicklas Backstrom, who lead all rookies with 55
assists, and was second in rookie scoring with 72 points. Veterans obtained from the trade deadline
all provided significant contributions, including former-Hab Cristobal Huet, Sergei Federov, and Matt
Cooke. While the offence has carried the team, with 66 goals scored in their last 20 games, the defence
has only allowed 37 goals in that same span. Philadelphia, while not dropping as far as Ottawa, has
also struggled during the stretch run. Look for Washington to dominate Philadelphia with a 4-0
Rebelo – [PHI in 6]: Philadelphia ended the season 2nd in both the penalty kill and
power play in the eastern conference much of this can be credited to their tenacious activity on both.
The Flyers crash and bang on the power play and get into every goalies kitchen and with Mike
Richards and Jeff Carter their penalty kill can scare a lot of teams especially ones which use forwards
on the point. Ovechkin just wont be able to do it on his own.
4. New Jersey Devils vs. 5. New York
Jonathan Rebelo – NYR in 7
Norman Szcyrek -NJD in 6
Matt Godbout – NYR in 6
Concensus Pick: NYR in 6
Rebelo – [NYR in 7]: A 7-0-1 season series record for the Rangers was a lot closer than
it appeared, three of their wins were in overtime or a shootout, and the other four were decided by 2
goals or less. Expect this series to be a war full blown war with many battles taking place in front of
the blue paint in front of both Brodeur and Lundqvist. In the end the Rangers will win expect a big
performance from young Marc Stall and the always clutch Chris Drury.
Godbout – [NYR in 7]: I like to speak bluntly about things so first thing is first. I hate the
Rangers and I have ever since the 90’s when they tried to buy a cup year after year. Yes, they failed
every season, but I find what the Rangers did cheapens the game and therefore I have a bias against
them because of it. Now on to the prediction. The Rangers have a very good defensive team, and on
paper at least, a lethal offensive unit that has been sleeping through the entire season. The Devils
have Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise, Patrick Elias and a team full of third liners. The regular season
dominance was hardly as one sided as it looks on paper but it still has value and this series will show
it in color. In the end, the Rangers have too many options for the Devils and Brodeur, but it will be a
long series that will take its toll on both teams.
1. Detroit Red Wings vs. 8. Nashville
Jonathan Rebelo – DET in 6
Norman Szcyrek -DET in 5
Matt Godbout – DET in 6
Concensus Pick: DET in 6
Szcyrek – [DET in 5]: The team managed the best record in the league, with 113 points,
despite finishing the season with 5 regulars injured, and having lost several other regulars at different
times of the season. Nashville, whose management forced the purging of several veterans last
summer, rebounded nicely to make it back to the playoffs at the #8 spot. Their coaching should be
applauded for the fine job they did to get this far, but the Red Wings should easily manage their
2. San Jose Sharks vs. 7. Calgary Flames
Jonathan Rebelo – CGY in 6
Norman Szcyrek -SJ in 5
Matt Godbout – SJ in 6
Concensus Pick: SJ in 6
Rebelo – [Flames in 6]: Joe Thornton had just one point, a secondary assist in four
games against the Flames this season, thanks to the hard work of two men Dion Phaneuf and Robyn
Regher who will have to be monumental and steal one of the first two games in San Jose if they don’t
my prediction will fail miserably. Goaltending will be interesting as Nabokov and Kiprusoff played 77
and 76 games respectively who will tire first will be a major factor in the series..
Godbout – [San Jose in 6]: Most pundits seem to fall on San Jose as the cup favorite out
of the west for reasons that can’t be justified. The reasons I refer to is the fact Joe Thornton has never
led his team past the second round. Patrick Marleau has looked disinterested after a huge contract
signing and currently has a team worst +/- of -19. To me this team is ripe for the picking, but not yet,
and not by the dysfunctional Keenan led Flames. Truth be told, depth will win this series, and the
Flames are not a deep team. Jerome Iginla is an absolute force, but as much as I like his game, he is
just not enough on his own for the Flames to pull off the upset.
3. Minnesota Wild vs. 6. Colorado Avalanche
Jonathan Rebelo – MIN in 7
Norman Szcyrek -MIN in 7
Matt Godbout – COL in 6
Concensus Pick: MIN in 7
Szcyrek – [MIN in 7]: Expect a very hard fought battle between these two western
clubs. Toughness and solid veterans litter both sides, and neither side will give the other an inch on
the ice. Minnesota, with its home ice advantage, will endure & succeed with this war.
Godbout – [COL in 6]: Minnesota is the third seed and should be the favorites, just not
in my books. Minnesota has a solid defensive team from top to bottom and will….. oh wait a second….
They used to have a great defensive team before Kurtis Foster was grotesquely injured with a broken
leg, and now recently Nick Schultz has fallen. Replacing the 20-25 mins per game that these guys
played is impossible at this point in the season and it will show on the ice. For the Avalanche, taking Schultz and Foster out of the line up greatly hinders the Wild’s ability to contain the trio of
Forsberg Sakic and Stastny for Colorado who have been on fire offensively lately. Add in the
Theodore factor (who looks like the Theo Montreal fans remember) and it spells a early exit for the
4. Anaheim Ducks vs. 5. Dallas Stars
Jonathan Rebelo – ANA in 5
Norman Szcyrek -ANA in 5
Matt Godbout – DAL in 7
Concensus Pick: ANA in 5
Rebelo – [ANA in 5]: Defense will win this despite the acquisition of Brad Richards the
Stars offence just wont be enough to beat the Ducks stingy defense. On the goaltending front J.S.
Giguere has led his Ducks to the Cup finals twice while Marty Turco has never won a playoff series
despite three shutouts against the Canucks in the first round last year.
Godbout– [DAL in 7]: Not only am I playing Devils advocate here but I actually think it
will happen too. The Ducks have swindled everyone in the hockey world this season by having
Selanne and Neidermayer “consider retirement” for as many games as it took to remain under the
salary cap and now they will finally pay for it. Anaheim is a very good team built for the playoffs but
they have also been luckier then most when it comes to officiating. The Ducks interfere and hold more
then any team in the NHL and always get away with it for some reason, but the Stars will end that
streak now with a strong PP unit. The main reason that Dallas is forever talked about as a non factor
in the playoffs is because of Marty Turco’s inability to win a series. Turco hasn’t been even close to
bad in the playoffs as much as he has been unlucky. Last season the Stars won 3 games in the first
round and all three from Turco’s shutouts. If the Stars had been able to score more goals (more then
1) they would have surpassed the first round and then some. This season they addressed that issue
with the addition of proven playoff performer and Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards. Mike Ribiero
has been even better this season and adds more then a point per game. This series will be dirty, tough,
and long, but the Stars will see round two.
The playoffs start tonight so we won’t have to wait long for answers to the quarter finals
questions. So have fun and enjoy it!
HW will continue to cover the entire Stanley Cup playoffs with round by round predictions and